Dave Bidini on The Next Chapter

Every year, the Canada Reads authors sit down with The Next Chapter host Shelagh Rogers to discuss their life, writing and what it's like to have their book up for national debate. We will share all the interviews on the Canada Reads website. 

This week, we bring you Shelagh's conversation with On a Cold Road author Dave Bidini. This interview originally aired on the December 26, 2011, episode of The Next Chapter.

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In addition to his trademark fedora, Dave Bidini wears many hats. He's a musician, best known as a founding member of the Rheostatics. He's a writer, with 10 books to his name, and a columnist for the National Post. He's also a hockey fan. He declared his love for the game defending King Leary, Paul Quarrington's novel about an aging hockey superstar, in Canada Reads 2008 — which, by the way, he won.

Now, Dave Bidini's back on Canada Reads, this time as an author. The internationally known model Stacey McKenzie is defending his first book, On a Cold Road: Tales of Adventure in Canadian Rock, which chronicles the life of a touring musician, complete with sex, drugs and rock and roll. And while he's happy to be back in the Canada Reads ring, he prefers being the defender, not the author. "You control someone's destiny when you're at the table," he said to Shelagh Rogers. "I know it's going to be tough come February when i'm going to have to sit in the bleachers and cheer on Stacey." 

However, Dave is enjoying revisiting On a Cold Road, a book that was originally published in 1998. "Firsts are dear in any capacity," he said. "It's kind of neat to go back and explore it again, to get that tingle that went with the discovery of writing this book." 

On a Cold Road is both a travel journal and an oral history of rock and roll in Canada. Dave chose this format for two reasons. First, he didn't think his story could carry a book on its own. "I'm not nearly enough of a narcissist to believe that my story could carry an entire book," he said.

Second, Dave felt it was important to chronicle the stories of those who paved the way for the Rheotstatics and others in Canadian music. "I think it's important, especially in Canada, to figure out our beginnings," he said. "As we advance and as we grow as a culture, we lose that, especially in rock and roll, especially in art." 

However, Dave is quick to point out that On a Cold Road is about so much more than music. It's about coming of age — for himself, for his band and for his country. "[Canada is] such a complicated place and to me, that makes it infinitely more interesting." 

Stacey McKenzie will defend On a Cold Road in the Canada Reads 2012 debates. The debates will air at 11 a.m. (11:30 a.m. in Newfoundland) on CBC Radio One and will be livestreamed on CBC Books at 10 a.m. ET on February 6,7, 8 and 9.

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